As we edge closer to the end of the StoreLocal Hospital Cup regular season, we still have six clubs in the mix for finals, with some crucial matches to come over the remaining weeks. Let’s take a look at how each club is tracking heading into finals.
Wests sit pretty at the top of the table with 55 points from 10 wins so far this season, despite having a bye in Round 16, even if University of Queensland claim a bonus point win over Bond, they can’t steal pole position.
The Red Heavies, after two crucial wins over Brothers and Easts these last two weeks, currently sit second on the ladder with 48 points, closely followed by Brothers on 46, who were the ladder leaders just a fortnight ago.
GPS sit in fourth place on 43 points. Despite also claiming 10 wins this season, the Gallopers were deducted five competition points earlier this season after fielding a player who hadn’t been cleared from his previous club in France, as per competition rules. While GPS have managed to stay in the top four throughout the season, those five points could prove costly over the coming weeks.
Bond are tied with GPS on 43 points and sit in fifth place, closely followed by Easts on 42 points. The Bullsharks have a tough run home with matches against UQ, Brothers and Easts, but they at least have three games to play where as a bye next weekend is a real hindrance for the Tigers. The Tigerland faithful will be ruing Easts’ loss to Norths a few weeks ago in a match that they would have pencilled in as easy points.
Sunnybank, Souths and Norths round out the ladder, and while these three clubs can’t make finals, they can certainly have an impact on who makes the top four, or who might be contesting either the major or minor semi-finals.
Round 16 matches
Bond University v University of Queensland
This match shapes up as an important one for both teams as Bond fight to break into the top four, and UQ will scrap to maintain their spot in the top two with bogie team Sunnybank and close rivals GPS still to play. Neither teams have safe runs home.
Bond will be without Reds lock Angus Blyth, but enforcer Devon Henson will slot into the second row in his place and will be a physical presence throughout the game. Hayden Sargeant returns to the 10 jersey and keep an eye on Hamish Roberts out wide.
Lachlan Pheely will start at tighthead for UQ in place of Dane Zander, while Conor Mitchell returns at No.8 after missing last week’s clash with Easts due to a former teammate’s wedding.
The Red Heavies have named an unchanged backline for the match after an impressive performance against the Tigers in Round 15.
The two clubs will wear their 2022 Indigenous strips for the clash.
Easts v Brothers
The Tigers have used up all their second chances this season, it is do or die for them. They are still a mathematical chance to finish in the four, but other results need to go their way and they need wins, bonus point wins, over Brothers and Bond.
The Tigers line-up remains relatively unchanged, besides the return of lock Will Sankey, who missed the Round 15 clash with UQ.
Brothers and Reds lock Ryan Smith will notch 100 club games for Brothers this weekend, having played just about every senior and colts grade at the club before making his way into the Reds squad.
The Brethren will welcome back prop and talismanic leader Tom Moloney, after a few weeks away for his wedding. Congrats T-Bone!
GPS v Norths
After a loss to Wests last weekend, GPS need to regroup and consolidate their finals hopes with a bonus point win against Norths.
Nigel Genia will earn his first start at number 9 this season, while Chris Kuridrani will make his return to the starting line-up at 13 after a long injury lay-off.
Lachlan Howell will earn a start at halfback for Norths seeing Harry Langbridge shift back to flyhalf, while unfortunately the club have lost Jack Peoples for the remainder of the season, Chris Wellington will start at 12.
Sunnybank v Souths
This Southside derby will see the two clubs come out in support of the MND & Me charity, raising awareness and funds for motor neuron disease.
Sunnybank will welcome Rohan Saifoloi to the 10 jersey for the first time this season, seeing Tom Lucas move to fullback.
For Souths, Hugo Smith will earn a start at halfback with Jakob Morrison having made the move to New Zealand to join the Southland Stags, while Preston Spinghall will start on the wing after receiving a late call up to the Premier Grade squad last weekend.